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DCEMA Director Calls for Hurricane Preparedness as 2000 Hurricane Season Begins, June 1

Wednesday, May 31, 2000
District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency (DCEMA) Director Peter G. LaPorte is calling on District residents to begin now to prepare for an above average 2000 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins tomorrow, June 1.

"Hurricane forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting a more active hurricane season this year with as many as a dozen named storms, seven or more of which could become hurricanes with three or more those reaching category three, four or five," says LaPorte.

"District of Columbia residents are vulnerable to hurricane damage such as flooding or wind damage, even though the city is not in a coastal area," he said. "The District has two major rivers within its boundaries, and portions of the city lie within the flood plain. We are known as the city of trees, so it's not hard to see how wind damage could become an issue. All-in-all, hurricane preparation is not something District residents should take lightly," he concluded.

Mr. LaPorte also noted that some District residents have summer homes on the Atlantic coast or on the eastern or western shores of the Chesapeake Bay. "People with summer homes on or near the water need to be prepared for possible hurricane damage. And, they should definitely have an evacuation plan in place."

Mr. LaPorte said hurricane preparation is a combination of education and action. "People need to know and understand the various terms that are used when talking about hurricanes and other severe weather conditions. They should know the difference between a "watch" and a "warning", when used to describe severe weather conditions such as hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods or flash floods. They should know whether their home is in a danger zone and vulnerable to floods or wind damage. And most important, they should begin NOW to prepare for possible hurricane damage.

Mr. LaPorte suggests the following "Homeowners Hurricane Checklist" as a guide-

  • Develop a family disaster plan.
  • Stay alert to storm advisories - know the differences between watch and warning (watch means conditions are right for severe weather in your area; a warning means severe weather is imminent).
  • Keep a portable radio and flashlight on hand; check batteries to make sure they are fresh.
  • Remove all loose objects from your yard and prune trees, shrubs and bushes to reduce the risk of wind damage.
  • Store drinking water in clean containers. You should have at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household (One gallon per person, per day). Stored water should be changed every six months.
  • Don't forget pets; bring them inside.
  • Be ready to evacuate the area if necessary.

Mr. LaPorte said DCEMA will convene two hurricane awareness seminars during late July/early August, the beginning of the peak hurricane season.